A Better Beard Than I Do
My brother Ken and I were members of a local volunteer fire company that manned and maintained its own ambulance company. My brother wanted to run on the ambulance crew and had to become an E.M.T. Even though I was a registered nurse, I took the course as well; to help him with his studies and so that I could run with the ambulance as well.
The very first call that my brother and I responded to together was a possible suicide. Our fire and ambulance company was at least a thirty to forty-five minute run to the nearest hospital. We always ran with three men; one driver and two E.M.T.s or a driver and an E.M.T. and a paramedic. The distance was too great if C.P.R. was needed for one medical person in the back to handle alone. Our ambulance company covered a large rural area of Fayette County. Much of it was inaccessible by medical helicopter and oft times the weather precluded the use of normal landing sites.
Unfortunately, the call had been correct. The man had indeed killed himself. Placing the barrel of his rifle under his chin, he shot himself through the head. All that was left for us to do was to seal off the crime scene and to call the authorities. The driver was stationed at the back door of the residence to prevent anyone from entering and my brother and I stationed ourselves at the front door for the same reason.
As we were waiting for the coroner and the Pennsylvania State Police to arrive, we sat on the chairs and we were talking. At that time my brother sported a thin, scraggly red beard. He was a redhead and when someone asked what my brother looked like, I would respond, “He’s thinner than I am and has hair that looks like rusty steel wool” because it was extremely curly. His bear had grown in the same way, only in patches.
A small crowd of people had gathered just beyond the front porch along the road in front of the crime scene. We had been sitting quietly for some time, when out of the blue, Ken said, “I’m going home and shave off my beard.”
I looked over at him like he was crazy thinking, “Where did that come from?” Not understanding the reason for his comment, I asked, “Why are you shaving off your beard?” I had no problem with him shaving it off as a matter of fact I had suggested it several times because it was only bits and pieces of a full beard.
He nodded his head toward the crowd and said, “She has a better beard than I do.”
I turned to look in the direction of his nod. Standing at the front of the crowd was a middle aged woman who was full figured. On her chin was indeed a beard. It was full and thick; red and long enough for her to brush it back under her chin. It was so smooth it looked like a chin guard.
As daylight dimmed into dusk, we continued to protect the suicide scene until we were released by the coroner and the state police who had arrived at almost the same time.